Living authentically: Going beyond the binary
July 10, 2020
July 10, 2020
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As we celebrate Pride this year, we stand together against any kind of racism, intolerance and inequality in our workplaces and our communities. Our voices need to be louder, our actions more visible and far-reaching.
As we recognize International Non-Binary People’s Day on July 14, we celebrate living authentically and continue to march further together toward equality for all.
Non-binary is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities that are outside the gender binary.
Meet three of our people as they discuss what it means to be non-binary, their journeys of discovery and how we can all be supportive allies.
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Charling Li is an Advanced App Engineering Senior Analyst in Australia. Ali Valin is a Marketing Manager, part of our Global Brand team, in the United States. Melanie Suhr is an Application Development Associate in Chile.
Charling: International Non-Binary People’s Day recognizes and celebrates how far we’ve come toward welcoming those who are different in a society that too often conditions us to think and act in ways that run counter to who we truly are. At the same time, we must take care not to reduce the trials non-binary people undergo every day to a single day of remembrance.
Melanie: It shows that we are valid and have a community. It’s an opportunity for the world to learn about the non-binary community, that we exist, and about the need to respect everyone regardless of our gender identities.
Melanie: Non-binary means you don’t identify specifically as either male or female. You are between or beyond the gender binary. I want to invite everyone to be an ally and to get to know the non-binary community.
Charling: Listen to our stories, but remember that we don’t have the answers to everything. We could be finding ourselves, exploring who we are, right alongside you. It’s generally a good idea to remember this: “If I wouldn’t ask this question to anyone else, I shouldn’t ask a non-binary person either.” Letting go of gender stereotypes and valuing us for the work we do means a great deal.
Ali: There’s a really simple way to be inclusive of non-binary people: share your pronouns, be it on your profile page, when you’re meeting someone new or when you’re taking part in a conference. That gives us an opportunity to mention our pronouns as well. And then I know you’re going to make every effort to address and refer to me correctly. I feel welcome and visible. If you aren’t sure of what pronouns to use, then use “they,” “them,” “their” by default. It helps create an atmosphere of inclusion for people of all identities.
Melanie: My self-discovery took time. For many years, I thought I might be transgender, but I was never sure. I started sharing what I was feeling with friends in the trans community, and they taught me about different types of gender identities. When I learned about non-binary people, everything inside of me clicked. I realized that’s who I am—I’m not part of the binary, I’m outside of it.
Ali: I knew I was queer very early on in life. I also knew that I didn’t feel comfortable in a binary world. There was nothing I could do to my face or my hair that made me feel female. When I came across the term non-binary, I knew that was my identity. What’s interesting is that life’s been easier ever since I started being more authentic. It’s made me more comfortable and that comes across to other people. I think I’m easier to talk to, as I’m presenting who I really am. Earlier, I didn’t know how to be in my body. Now I do.
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"I can express myself in a company that doesn't try to fit me into boxes." -Charling Li
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Charling: I’m openly non-binary and fairly androgynous-presenting, and the work I do to promote inclusivity—such as leaving my pronouns in my email—is talked about respectfully. My work ultimately values and celebrates me being proud of who I am. I feel like I can be free to express myself in a company that doesn’t try to fit me into boxes.
Ali: In some ways, I do feel free to be my true self at work. Our “Dress for Your Day” dress code means I usually don’t feel I have to be self-conscious or self-policing in my presentation. At the same time, I don’t think there’s a wide understanding of what being non-binary means, and that causes me to self-edit.
For instance, when I consider whether I’m going to be the only person in the meeting who names my pronouns while introducing myself, I have to weigh my need to be authentic versus the time it will take to unpack pronouns and why mine are different than you might assume—it’s basically a mini gender-inclusivity seminar.
On top of that, I’m keenly aware in those situations that, statistically, I’m likely to be the only person in the meeting who doesn’t use their assigned-at-birth pronouns. And, I’m sad to admit, most of the time I don’t choose to do the extra work of being the enby (refers to a non-binary person) standard-bearer. I just focus on the work instead, and accept being misgendered in conversation as the price of not choosing to be an educator in that room.
That’s one reason having LGBTI-friendly spaces at Accenture is so important to me. They don’t come front-loaded with the need for a lot of extra work—work that’s really psychically and emotionally draining. In gender-inclusive spaces, I can just be myself, and that’s such a gift.
Our gender identity and expression are deeply personal. Accepting and respecting how we identify is fundamental to advancing a culture of equality for all.
Be your true, authentic self, every day. Find your fit with Accenture.
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